Games are fun, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of harmless fun. However, parents sometimes have no other choice than to impose a ban. After all, if they’re slacking at school, talking back, or misbehaving in public (or in general), it’s often the most effective to hit them where it hurts.

    You see, corporal punishment is not just illegal in some places and dubiously moral in general – it has a limited effect.

    However, if you are to reduce or withhold their allowance or impose a weekday ban on video games… well, you might have figured out the key to their efficient upbringing.

    Now, in the past, you would just take their device. Today, however, they’re using it for school and to stay in touch with their friends. While you want to discipline them, you don’t want to turn them into a social pariah. Something like this would do no one good. 

    This is why a gaming ban has all you need.

    The problem is that your kids are much more tech-savvy than you were at their age. In fact, they might even be tech-savvy than you are now. This is why, if you are going to punish them this way, you need to know that they’re not going around your ban.

    So, here are a few suggestions you should follow. 

    The next thing you want to do is monitor their behavior. Some games are not on the computer but on their phone. Well, one of their friends may have a spare smartphone (an old one but capable of running a game in question). 

    Now, they’ll be extra sneaky but not as sneaky as they think. You should be able to pick up patterns in their behavior.

    One indicator is that they’re not as combative about the ban as they should be. It’s normal for a kid to be frustrated when things don’t go their way (even for an adult, for that matter); the problem is that if they’re just too chill with it, something’s wrong. Most likely, they have a plan to go past it 

    Fooling a parent is not too difficult. You can just give them your ethernet cable and tell them you can’t access the internet without it. These cables are not just dirt-cheap; they usually come in bulk, which means that they have a few spares probably stashed somewhere.

    On the other hand, there are so many methods of surveillance that you can implement, including WiFi spy software.

    This way, even if they have an extra device, they won’t be able to hide it from you, as these tools allow you to monitor all the devices that are connected to your network. If you see a device you don’t recognize, it could be that your child is using that spare smartphone to play games when they think you’re not looking.

    • Follow them everywhere

    If you have your own Steam account (or EPIC, GOG, Battlenet, etc.), you can just add them as friends. This way, you’ll get a popup whenever they join the game.

    Now, isn’t there a way to make the settings so that friends don’t get notifications? Of course, there is; however, for kids, gaming is a sort of social activity. They want their friends to see that they’re gaming.

    So, the trick is to make a fake profile and send them a request. This is also your chance to see if lecturing them about the importance of not accepting requests from people they don’t know had any effect. This is not just advised for young children but also for students and young people in general.

    If they have a long friend list, you can just add yourself. This way, they might not even notice.

    Now, the key to playing this right lies in showing some cunning and restraint. When you see that they’re playing when you think they’re studying, you shouldn’t confront them right away. Let them wonder about how you know. They won’t be able to figure it out.

    Also, if you know, you know, you’re not in court, you don’t have to present them with proof or a warrant about how you figured out. They did it, and they know it; don’t let them gaslight you just because they were caught. 

    • Track their in-game process

    Now, this is completely ingenious and impossible to trick. It does, however, take a parent who is committed or familiar with the game.

    There are always in-game signs of them playing. If you are familiar with the game, you can notice that they’re at a higher level, that their XP bar moved, that the items in their inventory are different, or that (if they’re playing an MMO) their character was not where they were the last time.

    If they’re playing an offline game, this is even easier to check. Just try to figure out if the last save game matches the last time you checked.

    While this may seem exhausting, the truth is that (good) parenting was never supposed to be simple. Moreover, you underestimate the fact that a lot of parents in 2024 are gamers themselves.

    Also, you can make this task simpler. You don’t have to memorize their level, inventory composition, amount of currency, or location. You can just screenshot it or take a photo. This way, you have a much easier job.

    Now, there’s a hidden perk to this. It’s always a good thing to know what your kids are about. So, trying out their favorite game and learning a thing or two about it is great, even if you’re not just trying to impose a ban or a penalty. 

    • Make sure that you’re fair

    Lastly, you have to figure out how to enact a fair punishment. A kid needs a system, a set of rules that they can either abide by or completely ignore (but understand what the consequences are). The most important part is that you’re consistent.

    First of all, you need to communicate clearly:

    • “You’re getting a game ban because you did X, Y, and Z, even though you were repeatedly warned. The terms of the ban are such that there are no games on workdays, and you have only X hours every weekend.” 

    You also need to let them know when the ban will be lifted. It could be time-sensitive, or it could take place when certain conditions are met. For instance, if their grades are going down, you can decide to lift them once the results of the next test come in. 

    This way, they’ll know what to expect the next time they’re in a situation to commit the same “crime.” 

    Sure, they’ll be angry, but they need to understand that the punishment is the result of their actions, not something they did on a whim or out of cruelty.

    This is why breaking down their behavior or actions is a pivotal part. If they don’t know why they’re being punished, the punishment is pointless. 

    When you have to enact a parental punishment/restriction, you have to do it right

    Just remember why you’re doing it all. You want them to change their behavior – it’s not about penance or cruelty. Therefore, the ban must be ironclad in order to be effective. Also, once they figure out that you always know when they play, they’ll be more hesitant to try and go around your ban.

    This is why, no matter how you figure it out, you should never share your methods. The more mysterious they are, the more potent they will appear to be. 

    Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.